Stupido!

I blame the media.

If every time someone in the public sphere said something what is technically known as “effing moronic”, the journalist would either say

“Haha, good one. But really….”

Or went in for obliterating their argument in the article (obviously, they have more wiggle room in an opinion piece but straightforward news can also subtly highlight logical inconsistencies and other detritus of an untidy mind), then people would demand much better media training and stop saying stupid things to the media.

Unfortunately, journalists are short of time and so we get cruddy arguments printed up next to well-thought out ones with no way of distinguishing the two.

For example. Last post, I wrote about a new thesis about the nature of nurseries with some pretty damning criticisms.

Some people have welcomed the report, they believe that daycare should be better and they are hopeful this study is the catalyst for real change. They also start their criticisms with what sounds like the set up to the world’s most specific joke “What’s the difference between a  daycare worker with a diploma and a daycare assistant without a diploma?”

Other people are not happy about the report and disagree with the main findings.

Fine, these two viewpoints seem reasonable to me.

But where I lose my shit, to the point of getting so world weary I start to take on the countenance of Morgan Freeman, is when they say things like:-

“It’s a simplistic picture.”

“The sample is not big enough.”

“He has only concentrated on one aspect, the working conditions of the professional daycare workers has not been addressed.”

and

“He has been very disrespectful.”

Deutsch: Morgan Freeman bei der deutschen Film...
So much pain in the world

Simplistic, is it? Why is it simplistic? It’s “simplistic” because the report only looks at how the children are interacted with. I don’t know if anyone here has ever done any actual science beyond finding Ohm’s Law. Let me tell you something about science. In science, it is all like that. In science, you test one thing at a time. If you had just experimentally determined Ohm’s Law and some vinegardick came out of nowhere and said it was “simplistic” because you did not take into account the magnetic field around the variable resistor; you would be well within your rights under international law to pop them on the nose with your fist. Yeah, it was “simplistic”. No, that still doesn’t invalidate it.

You were not trying to find out the SHINING TRUTH of all electromagnetism. You were trying to see how voltage, current and resistance were related. Who gives a fuck about the magnetic field? That experiment can wait, buddy.

Like this study. He was not trying to experimentally determine “How does it feel to work in a Danish nursery and what happens to the children who go there and do daycare workers have enough time for everything and blah blah blah?” he was trying to find out something about how children are interacted with by adults paid to interact with them. No doubt he wanted to address  these made up concerns about how terribly difficult it is to have to balance both baby rocking and coffee drinking in your working hours but sadly, he was up against his maximum word allowance and had to leave it out. Have you checked the appendices? It might be in there.

Yes, ok, if you want to call testing one thing at a time “simplistic”, you fill your boots. It’s just that everyone will think you are a moron for not understanding how science works, ok? It’s probably fine. Yeah, no, you’re right, he probably should have spent the same amount of time superficially addressing every aspect of daycare instead of going deeply into one of them. It’s not like “How do infants and daycare workers interact” is a particularly important question about daycare. No, you’re right. It was simplistic. Let’s forget he ever spoke.

Sample size. I could look up the sample size but I cannot be bothered. Look it up yourself. As if you would know a big enough sample size in this field if it bit you on the face. Come on.

The person making the complaint that the researcher neither saw enough daycare institutions nor followed enough children is not saying that HE has a better set of data. He is not even saying that he has read a report that had a larger sample and different findings. He is not even saying that he would support the setting up of a large scale study to get to the bottom of this deeply troubling report.

He is saying that deep in his heart, he knows the findings are wrong because they just are because he and some of his best friends are daycare workers and none of them have said that they emotionally and intellectually neglect the infants they are paid to emotionally and intellectually stimulate.

Now, let’s put it this way. If he was following so few children at so few nurseries, how come those daycare workers couldn’t pull their thumbs out of their arses for the short time he was observing them and put on a good show? It really isn’t rocket surgery to give the observer what they want to see. The horrible truth is that the daycare workers that he observed not doing their jobs properly (due to what he suggests is poor leadership and planning); probably went home with a spring in their step and a song in their hearts. They probably do not recognise that their professional practice is dire. Because they did it in front of cameras. That is a tiny bit concerning, considering that one of his observations include watching a child shutdown emotionally and completely withdraw entirely due to how they were treated by a daycare worker.

Whether it is widespread or not, I cannot tell you. But neither can you, so shut the fudge up, okay?

The plight of the daycare worker. Some people have claimed this is a witchhunt. Now, I have worked as a teacher in a very hostile country. Nothing we did was right. Nothing we tried was enough. We worked ourselves into the ground, trying our best to give everything we had. There were lazy teachers, sure, but not at my schools. Everyone was hard working. A lot of our time was spent on bullshit makework that detracted from our real responsibilities and that was terribly unfortunate. But that is not what we are dealing with here in nurseries.

Nursery nurses are rocking up to work, “planning” to take things as they come, ignoring children when they need them, taking ridic coffee breaks and trying to break the world record for numbers of meetings during “teaching” time. Maybe they need that many meetings. Maybe they should have them after the kids have gone home. Your man here is suggesting that they introduce a little more structure into their professional practice and prioritise human contact with the children.

That is probably fine. If a daycare worker thinks that it is not their responsibility to interact with a child to prevent them becoming emotionally stunted; then they probably need that called to their attention. “Hey daycare worker: that’s pretty fucked up, yo!”

Disrespectful. Oh holy moly, my eyes widened like saucers when I saw that one. I will give you “disrespectful”, son!

I am almost certain he is not saying they are all like that. If it isn’t about you, it isn’t about you.

GOOD WORK, DAYCARE WORKER WITH PROFESSIONAL PRIDE, you are such a clever boy! Is that better?

Firstly, it’s not “disrespectful” to those who are discharging their duties in a professional and humane manner. Those guys are doing it right and no one is disrespecting them. The question on everybody’s lips is: “How can we get them all to be like that? Do we need more of them or should they work in a different way?”

Secondly, it is acceptable to be “disrespectful” to those who emotionally stunt the child left in their care. Those are the sorts of people you want to disrespect. You want to make them feel humiliated and exposed and derided. It’s sort of the point.

Let us not forget: Danish daycare workers are the best trained daycare workers in the entire world! They have diplomas in child psychology and development. They actually understand better than most what happens if you ignore a child. They are not blundering fools trying to do their best. They are not depressed or unwell, unable to provide for the child. They are choosing to do the least possible work and they have a highly educated understanding of what happens if they choose to de-prioritise individual attention. They are very much undeserving of respect, is where I am going with this.

There we are. People say all sorts of stupid things and we let them usually in the hope of a quiet life. If only we could get the media to tease a much more thoughtful discourse out of those they interview (or else rip the terrible arguments to shreds), we would have a much more enlightened world.

News Translation: Danish Nurseries

Denmark, we’ve got a problem. Daycare in many countries has to compete with stay-at-home parents, nannies and childminders. In Denmark, childminders are the only real competition. With no serious competition, daycare has been allowed to race to the bottom. A researcher has studied what is going on and the Danish media has gone bananas. 

Taken from politiken: Expert “Break with ‘legalise hash and free milkshake’ pedagogy”

Many children in Danish nurseries go around like senseless “penguins” and the loss of adult contact is so pronounced that it damages the development of the children’s brains.

So says the PhD Ole Henrik Hansen from the Institute for Education and Pedagogy (DPU) at Aarhus University. He has video footage and a good 8000 observations spread over 26 children in nine nurseries in the greater Copenhagen area together with questionnaires from 40 000 daycare workers in the country-wide investigation on how it really is in nurseries here.

And it’s not an uplifting picture that Ole Henrik Hansen can give of the conditions.

“It’s only 12.5% of institutions that plan their work. Most daycare workers turn up to work in the morning, sit in a circle and plan their work from there. Imagine if that went on in your child’s school. It would definitely be totally outrageous,” said Ole Henrik Hansen to politiken.

Anything goes in nurseries

The expert certainly doesn’t handle Danish daycare workers with kid gloves.

For many years he has investigated – and criticised – conditions in Danish nurseries. According to Ole Henrik Hansen the problem is that children experience a “legalise-hash-and-free-milkshake-pedagogy” in institutions.

“Anything goes in nurseries. An uneducated colleague can come in and be listened to in the staff meeting- and be taken seriously. At the same time we hold the world record for how early with put our children in nurseries. But we ought to reflect on if institutions are going about it in the right way,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.

He suggests that many Danish nurseries be closed because the level of provision of stimulation and child development is so low.

“We have the attitude about child development in Denmark, that children have to explore things for themselves. It’s fair enough for constructive, strong children. But for the quiet children, and those that are crawling up the walls, it is unfortunate. And it means that years after what happened in nursery, we must use an enormous amount of money on including those children,” said the expert.

Free play or organised activities?

Ole Henrik Hansen’s goal is to do away with unengaged daycare workers who according to him can be found in a large number of institutions country-wide.

But also, that we at the municipal and regional do away with what he calls “hippy-pedagogy”.

“We need to plan daycare worker’s time better and create relationships with smaller groups of children, so that daycare workers have a better opportunity to monitor children. At the same time, there’s a need for leadership that can separate the professional from the personal. It’s a problem when leaders cannot see to it that children  thrive and afterwards pass the buck,” said Ole Henrik Hansen to politiken.

“Child-centred”

The only upside in relation to this problem, according to the expert from Aarhus University is that there is actually is a will to do something. And that people, including politicians have already started looking at whether free play or organised activities are the way forward.

He is currently engaged with yet another study with 20 borough councils that goes under the name “Child-at-the-centre”

Simultaneously he is sitting on a task force group set up by Children and Teaching minister Christine Antorini (S)

“We will soon have some recommendations and I really hope that Christine Antorini understands what has happened in the area. Luckily we can see that many daycare workers are ready to look forward instead of back. Also even though I say many hard things to them about how they work,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.

Taken from politiken: “Expert: Conditions are shocking in Danish nurseries”

Small children are left to themselves to a high degree and met with rejection and indifference by daycare workers.

Daycare workers in the country’s nurseries fail the youngest which results in them shutting down emotionally, shows a new PhD thesis.

Small children all the way down to 10 months are being left to themselves a great deal and met with rejection and indifference from daycare workers, documents video footage and a good 8000 observations spread over 26 children in nine nurseries in the greater Copenhagen area and the questionnaires from 40 000 daycare workers over the entire country, according to Berlingske Tidende.

“Danish nurseries are so miserable that a great deal of them ought to be closed,” said PhD Ole Henrik Hansen who is behind the report.

He says that rejection from the daycare workers gets the children walkring around like senseless “penguins” and the loss of adult contact is so serious that it damages the development of the brain.

Rather have better leadership than more workers

The answer is not more daycare workers, believes Ole Henrik Hansen:

“It’s about organisation and leadership.

“With how things work in many nurseries, we could employ as many daycare workers without the children getting anything out of it,” said Ole Henrik Hansen.

At the Daycare Worker Group Bupl, they are familiar with the recordings.

” Ole Henrik Hansen points out some important things to get the focus onto the children,” said the chair of Bupl Henning Pedersen to Berlingske Tidende.

“But he paints somewhat of a simplistic picture which does not take into account the working conditions of daycare workers in nurseries,” he added.

14 month old boy closed into himself

The chair for the National Parental Association , Fola, Lars Klingenberg, has seen a recording of a small boy of 14 months closing into himself after he was ignored by a daycare worker.

“It really affected me a lot because it is totally clear to see what has happened. It goes straight to the heart of everyone – especially us parents,” said Lars Klingenberg to Berlingske.